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Anuradha Mittal On The True Cause Of World Hunger

As I write this, as many as 7.5 million Afghans are facing starvation this winter. An estimated fifty thousand tons of food a month is needed to feed them. Meanwhile, the U.S. war against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime continues to interfere wit…

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Month Without Rest

Travel Notes From Israel During The Intifada

I make two stopovers on the way from San Francisco to Tel Aviv. Between Detroit and Amsterdam, I am seated next to a beautiful Indian woman named Sumitra. She asks why I’m going to the Middle East, and I say because I’m bored. I ask why she’s going to Romania, and she says for a wedding, which, I have to admit, is a better reason.

Inside the high-security area for the Israel flight, a beefy guy with thick black hair and bad skin asks me if I’m Jewish. I nod cautiously, and he indicates his approval. Then he tells me he’s a prophet.

Moo

We're at this motel in Kerrville, Texas, where we’ve come so my friend Shulami can receive her next chemo treatment and have the conversation she’s been avoiding with the doctor. She has neglected to tell me that her cancer has spread, despite the most recent course of treatment. I know things are bad, but I don’t know how bad. We walk from our motel room, with its cute fifties decor, to the bottom of the grassy hill out back, where we dangle our feet in the Guadalupe River. It’s muggy but tolerable in the shade. As day fades to dusk, fishermen in boats glide slowly by — just a few of them, hugging the bank. Across the river, cows moo, and Shulami laughs: their lowing is music to her, like the water rippling against our feet and the cicadas and the kids up the hill shouting by the motel pool.

Hell

Ten minutes into a recent flight from San Jose to St. Louis, I was reveling in a first-class upgrade and a new Margaret Atwood novel when I felt and heard a powerful thump. The aircraft, which had been gaining altitude, rocked vigorously. The man next to me widened his eyes, asking, “What was that?” Startled murmurs went around the cabin.

Fiction

How To Prosper During The Coming Bad Years

In the summer of 1979, I fell ruinously in love with a coltish, athletically robust Greek girl of fifteen named Nicole Liarkos . When I think of her now (which isn’t very often), I always imagine her poolside, her creamy caramel skin twice bisected by the triple triangles of her buttercup yellow bikini, her left arm blocking the sun from her eyes. We met in July of that year, on a church youth retreat in Panama City, Florida, and, as fate would have it, I fell for her the exact same week that Bob Dylan accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. I was thirteen years old. I knew next to nothing about sex, death, or God and absolutely everything about rock music.

Readers Write

Fears And Phobias

My mother always assured me that unspeakable punishments were bound to befall any child as naughty as I was.

“If I were you,” she’d say, “I’d be afraid to go to sleep at night, for fear God would strike me dead.”

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2002

I don’t have an American flag on my car or my front door. But I’m more of a patriot than Attorney General John Ashcroft, who studies the U.S. constitution as if it were a menu in a fashionable Washington, D.C., restaurant from which he’s free to pick and choose. Is it an exaggeration to call him a terrorist? Dismantling the Bill of Rights is less dramatic than smashing a plane into a building, but perhaps no less a threat to democracy.

Musings From Our Founder ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

We seem to have a compulsion these days to bury time capsules in order to give those people living in the next century some idea of what we are like. I have prepared one of my own. In it, I have placed some rather large samples of dynamite, gunpowder, and nitroglycerin. My time capsule is set to go off in the year 3000. It will show them what we are really like.

Alfred Hitchcock

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